Clocking out of work for two weeks is one of life’s greatest pleasures.
As Australians, any overseas travel essentially means a minimum 8 hour flight commitment. This poses a problem for permanently impatient members of society like myself, who envision a crowded, artificially lit airport lounge with overpriced Mt Franklin water bottles and internally groan. But, amidst their shortcomings, airports do provide a rich landscape for my all-time favourite hobby: people watching.
As travelling is a universal pastime, there’s never one sort of traveller lining up to purchase a pre-plane cup of coffee, soggy sandwich or last minute electrical adaptor that’s twice the cost of getting it from MYER. Airports are where all cultures, personalities and peculiarities collide to create a crazy assortment of human beings that you can’t help but smile at. From the suit wearing business-class regular talking very loudly (and very importantly) to someone on the phone, to the sleep deprived 3 year old who’s parents have made them stay up for 12 hours straight in the hope they sleep peacefully on the plane, we are all equals on those uncomfortable vinyl airport seats.
Next time you find yourself stranded in a long and stationary boarding line, cast you eye around the airport and identify the different types of travellers surrounding you.
With an itinerary that reads like an epic Tolstoy novel, these travellers are leaving no man (or museum, park, gallery or mildly interesting monument) unturned. Before they’ve even left home they’ve made dinner reservations, booked tours, researched day trips, established budgets, packed snacks, checked and double checked flight times, consulted the stars, printed off all important documents and tucked them away in a colour-coded folder.
How to spot them: Standing smug, satisfied and first in line at the Lourve.
In their suitcase: Sensible shoes, money belt and the entire Lonely Planet Travel Book collection.
Lonely Planet: The Travel Book ($80); Sperry Ivory Sneaker ($119.95); R&A Leather Passport Holder ($99.95). All available at MYER
2. The Houdini
Houdini travellers have a tendency to go off the grid for days, weeks or even months to finally emerge in some secluded corner of world with a story that’s so ridiculous you have to believe it (think The Hangover but with less Mike Tyson). Houdini’s can encompass backpackers, nomads and other members of the long-term-slow-travel movement that seem to live by the motto: “yeah, why not?” and enjoy giving their parents heart attacks.
Last seen: Checking into a hostel in Vietnam.
In their suitcase: What suitcase?
High Sierra Mini Backpack ($45); Herschel Little American Raven Rubber Backpack ($179.95); American Tourister Backpack ($99.95). All available at MYER
3. The Self-Improver
The most admirable of the travellers, a run in with a Self-Improver reignites a passion and makes you want to travel more. Like Eat Pray Love‘s Elizabeth Gilbert or Wild‘s Cheryl Strayed, these travellers are serious about taking a chance, experiencing the new and getting back on track after tragedy – or simple ambivalence took a hold of their previous lives. Instead of doing anything by the book, they are writing a new one as they go (and you’re already in line to audition for the title character when it becomes a movie.)
Last seen: Staring out over the river Thames, wondering what is all means, with a pen behind their ear.
In their suitcase: Notepad for when inspiration strikes.
Ted Baker A5 Notebook ($39.95); Kindle E-Reader Black ($99); Ted Baker Ball Point Pens ($69.95). All Available at MYER.
4. The Instagrammer
Had their outfits picked out before they even booked their tickets. Usually travelling in pairs (one to pose, one to take the photo) they’ve planned their itinerary around the most instagrammable vistas they’ve discovered through the #wanderlust #globalcitizen #globetrotter hashtags. Even though our first instinct is to scorn these travellers for not living in the moment, take a step back and you’ll notice they’re actually having more fun that the disgruntled tourists who thought Big-Ben-was-going-to-be-taller-than-that. Another plus: having someone around you to document the trip is a massive stroke of luck to those of us who forgot our phone even had a camera function.
Last seen: Meticulously re-positioning their latte to fit the Eiffel Tower into the *candid* scene.
In their (good-looking) suitcase: slightly outlandish clothes that couldn’t be pulled off in Perth, iPhone 8 or its Samsung or Google equivalent, hair straighter, hair curler, hair dryer, and a very, very small hair salon.
Samsonite Lite-Cube DX ($799); Basque Beret ($29.95); iPhone 8 Rose Gold ($1479). All Available at MYER.
5. The Collector
Don’t confuse Collectors with your usual trigger-hungry tourist. These sophisticated hunter-gathers are on the lookout for exceptional shots, unusual scenes and uncommon experiences. Not so interested in the regular tourist-traps, you can find Collectors in the most unlikely of places, throwing themselves into the unknown and amassing a collection of wonderfully bizarre stories to bring up at future dinner parties. Back home over a glass of imported Tuscan wine ( a summer hand-picking Sangiovese grapes on the Italian coast renders all other booze inadequate) they will casually remark that ‘you haven’t really seen Europe until you’ve watched a meteor shower from the roof of the Trans-Siberian railway at 3:42am during a blizzard’.
Last seen: Disappearing down an alleyway in Budapest.
In their suitcase: A camera. Or two. Max three.
Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III ($1179); Canon EOS M100 Mirrorless Camera ($799); Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 – Ice Blue ($99)
6. The Honeymooners
Ah, Honeymooners. Nothing can dampen your mood when there’re stars in your eyes. Delayed flight? More time to canoodle in the airport lounge. Incoming monsoon? Picnic on the floor with room service and champagne. Severe sunburn? They’ve got two loving hands to apply the aloe vera.
Last seen: Staring intently into each others eyes and ordering a second mini-umbrella’d mimosa by a Hawaiian beach
In their suitcase: Swimsuit and sunscreen – maybe a shawl too, but that just seems excessive for a beach holiday.
Heidi Klum Swim Vallie De Mai V One Piece ($189; MYER); Banana Boat Dry Balance Clear Spray ($18; Woolworths); BONDS Frosted Fruits Boardies ($54.95; MYER)